Klein School District accused of discrimination

Andrea Dearden Sep. 20, 2014, 1:41pm

An employee of the Klein School District says he was subjected to derogatory comments and unjust scrutiny on the job because of the color of his skin.

Douglas Watkins filed a lawsuit against the Klein Independent School District on Aug. 15 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

According to the lawsuit, Watkins is an African-American man who has worked for the school district since 1990, beginning as a grounds crewman and promoted to an HVAC tech six years later. Until 2013, Watkins says he had never received any negative write-up, complaint or disciplinary action from his supervisors. 

However, according to the complaint, Watkins has been witness to and the subject of numerous racial comments over the years from other maintenance department employees and supervisors. He also says he was repeatedly and closely supervised on the job but other employees were not under the same scrutiny. Despite complaining about the comments and treatment, Watkins alleges his supervisor failed to address the problems.

In October 2013 Watkins was placed on a performance improvement plan allegedly because of his opposition to the treatment of and derogatory comments toward African-Americans. In December 2013, Watkins says he filed an internal grievance and a meeting was held with the district's human resources director. The HR director allegedly told Watkins he could be fired anytime because Texas is a right-to-work state. Watkins alleges he received another disciplinary write-up shortly after filing the grievance.

Watkins accuses the Klein Independent School District of racial discrimination and of violating his civil rights. He asks for an unspecified amount of money in damages and court costs. Watkins is representing himself and requests a jury trial.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-CV-02372.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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